Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a speech, “Don’t Forget Kashmir”, which as the title suggests focused on that conflict on the Subcontinent. Al-Zawahiri was insistent on fighting India, but he also wanted to “liberate” the Kashmiri jihad from the oversight of the Pakistani secret police and military, who have used these Islamist paramilitary forces as instruments of state policy against the Indian Union since the time of partition. In Al-Zawahiri’s telling the Pakistani state, such as it is, is too close to the Americans and the West. A transcript of the speech, released in English by Al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab Media, is reproduced below.
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In the Name of God, all praise belongs to God alone, and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of God, his family, Companions and those who follow him.
My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.
I would like to discuss with you today a tragedy that has continued unabated for over seventy years: the plight of the Muslims of Kashmir. It is a tragedy made even more dire by the fact that they are caught between Hindu brutality on the one hand and the treachery and conspiracies of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies on the other.
Given the endless sufferings that they have endured, we must strongly empathize with their cause, express our sympathies for them, and extend to them all possible support, for their pain is our pain; their wounds are our wounds; aggression against them is aggression against us; and violation of their sanctities is violation of our sanctities. Kashmir is a bleeding wound in our hearts—hearts that grieve with the pain of many such bleeding wounds.
We must reiterate our stance that aggression against Kashmir is aggression against the entire umma [Muslim community], just as aggression against any other part of the Muslim umma is aggression against Kashmir. We are a single, united umma; geographic boundaries or national differences cannot divide us.
God says, “Indeed, this umma of yours is a single umma, and I am your Lord, so worship Me.” The Prophet said, “The parable of the mutual ties of believers is that of a wall, each part of it strengthens the other. (And he joined the fingers of his two hands to illustrate this).” The Prophet is reported to have said, “The sanctity of the blood of all Muslims is equal, the pledge of the lowest of them is binding on all, and the farthest of them responds to the call of each one of them, and they are like a single hand against their enemies.” The Prophet said, “The parable of believers in their mutual love, mercy and support is that of a body; if any part of it aches, the entire body feels the pain.”
This is why the Arab mujahideen wanted to head to Kashmir after expelling the Russians from Afghanistan. However, the Pakistani government and Army—the toadies of America—were lying in wait for them. The policy of the Pakistani government and its disgraceful Army regarding the Kashmiri mujahideen is no different from its policy earlier regarding the Arab mujahideen after the Russian withdrawal—and later vis-à-vis the Islamic Emirate [Taliban] and its mujahideen and muhajirun [emigrants]. All the Pakistan Army and government are interested in is exploiting the mujahideen for specific political objectives, only to dump or persecute them later; the beneficiaries in the end being a bunch of traitors who fill their pockets with bribes and illegitimate wealth.
Pakistan’s intelligence agencies provided the Crusaders with extensive information about the Islamic Emirate and its mujahideen. It arrested the mujahideen of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Emirate, tortured them in its prisons, and handed them over to the Crusaders. In fact, many were killed in the secret prisons of these agencies. These same agencies provided the Americans safe houses, secret private prisons, logistics routes and support, secured the land route [to Afghanistan] for them, and in return received bribes.
It is impossible for these agencies to support the Islamic cause, defend Muslims, or liberate their lands. Their conflict with India is essentially a secular rivalry over borders managed by the American intelligence. The so-called differences between the American and Pakistani intelligence are exactly the same differences that tend to exist between a petty thief and the gang’s boss. The gang’s boss tells the petty thief: “I paid you a lot, and you did very little for me in return”, while the petty thief retorts: “You paid me little, and I did a lot for you”. However, the petty thief’s loyalties remain with the gang’s boss, and when he works, he works for him.
The Pakistani intelligence agencies complain to America: “You have crossed the limits by preferring India and its agents over us”. The Americans in turn tell the Pakistani intelligence: “We have paid you money, both officially and as individual bribes, for killing Muslims, but you turn a blind eye towards those who kill us and our agents”. However, the cooperative relationship between the two continues to prosper. This alliance of thieves essentially trades in Muslim blood, their shari’a, and their sanctities.
Here, I would like to clarify an important point: In the light of the shari’a, it is acceptable for Muslims and mujahideen to benefit from the differences and rivalries between the enemies of Islam, whether between the big criminals and their petty hirelings, or between the Western and Eastern blocs. However, what clearly goes against the shari’a and is nothing short of a guaranteed disaster is that we submit ourselves, our secrets, our destiny, and our decisions to these thieves—the toadies of international criminals.
If the Pakistani government and Army claim that they are going against American policies, and that they govern over an independent sovereign state, I would like to ask them two simple questions: Can the Pakistani government or the Army stop American drones from hovering in Pakistani airspace? Can the Pakistani government or the Army stop the flow of American logistic convoys transiting from Pakistani territory to provide supplies to the American Army in Afghanistan?
The government and Army of Pakistan cannot be trusted to liberate Kashmir. Their history of failures, defeats, corruption, and treachery is a witness to this truth. At the very most, all they would like to achieve is to transfer to Kashmir the corruption and rot that Pakistan has endured at their hands for seventy years—a package of political, moral, financial and legislative corruption combined!
When it comes to defending Muslims, the Pakistan Army possesses a very dark history. The Army that helped America destroy Afghanistan, the army that surrendered Bengal to India, the army that carried out massacres of Muslims in Baluchistan and expelled the residents of Waziristan and Swat from their homes, is not an army that can be entrusted with the defense of Muslims anywhere. Therefore, the first vital step to turn the jihad in Kashmir into a jihad for the sake of God, and not jihad for the sake of international criminals, and to liberate the Kashmiri jihad from the clutches of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. After achieving this liberation, the mujahideen must plan their jihad by taking free and independent decisions that are guided by the principles of shari’a.
I am of the view that the mujahideen in Kashmir—at this stage at least—should single-mindedly focus on inflicting unrelenting blows on the Indian Army and government so as to bleed the Indian economy and make India suffer sustained losses in manpower and equipment. In doing so, the mujahideen must persevere patiently. They also need to establish stronger channels of communication with their Muslim brethren all over the Muslim world.
The mujahideen in Kashmir must benefit from the jihadi awakening in the different theatres of jihad. They must communicate with the mujahideen in different parts of the world, and ensure that their voice reaches them, so that the Kashmir issue is raised at the popular level within the umma and its latest developments are continuously brought to light. Of course, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies—America’s primary tool in Pakistan—will try to prevent the mujahideen from doing so, so that they remain under their control forever as a political bargaining chip.
The mujahideen in Kashmir, Pakistan, and the world over must make their jihad a jihad bound by the guidelines of the shari’a. They must never violate the sanctities of Muslims. They must undo any mistakes that they might have committed. The issue of Muslim blood and sanctities must not be treated lightly. It is not possible to punish the son because his father is an apostate, or kill innocent people on basis of mere suspicion or weak evidence. Nor should mosques, markets, and gathering places of Muslims become targets of explosions. These crimes distort the image of the mujahideen and divert the attention of the Muslim masses from the core issues, turning them into receptive audience for the propaganda campaigns of government and Western-controlled media. The Pakistan Army, its intelligence agencies, and the media under its control exploits these deviations to distort jihad and justify countless scandals and crimes committed against millions of Muslims.
The absence of shar’i guidelines turns the mujahideen into murderers and gangs engaged in kidnapping for ransom and blackmailing. Unfortunately, some of these deviations and diseases have penetrated into the ranks of the mujahideen, and there is no choice but to confront this phenomenon by enjoining good and forbidding evil. This obligation is mandatory on the honourable scholars before anyone else. It is their duty to clarify the truth to the umma, expose the doubts raised by the corrupt. They must explain to the Muslim masses that the even after seventy years, the shari’a remains totally absent from the legal and commercial domains, and that the constitution of Pakistan and its legal system is loaded with clear-cut contradictions of the shari’a.
Esteemed scholars! It is your duty to preach to the umma that the jihad against America in Afghanistan today is fardh ayn [an individual obligation], just as the jihad against Russia was three decades earlier. And if the mujahideen, or those who associate themselves with the mujahideen, have committed some mistakes—or even crimes—then let us not forget that the Army and the security agencies in Pakistan have committed thousands of worse crimes against millions of Muslims.
Respected scholars! Let the umma know that the one who supports disbelievers against Muslims is a disbeliever like them. God says, “The one who takes them as allies is one of them.” Explain to the masses that Islam shall never be victorious except by jihad and da’wa [proselytism]—and not by sham democratic games that have only distanced the umma from the teachings of the shari’a. Clarify to the people that we are a single umma, and our jihad is one jihad; and that the support of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan is an individual obligation on the people of Afghanistan and those in their proximity, and after them on all Muslims, until sufficient strength is achieved to defeat America, its allies, and its agents. You must clearly state that supporting the jihad in Kashmir, the Philippines, Chechnya, Central Asia, Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the Islamic Maghreb and Turkistan is an individual obligation on all Muslims, until sufficient strength is achieved to expel the disbelieving occupier from Muslim lands.
As for our people in Kashmir, God is witness to the fact that we have not forgotten you, and that we stand with you with everything we possess, even if all that we possess is du’a.
Rejoice in the glad tidings given to you by the Prophet, “God has safeguarded two groups of my umma from Hellfire: the group that conquers Al-Hind [the Indian Subcontinent], and the group that shall be with Eesa [Jesus], son of Maryam.”
Our last prayer is that all praise belongs to God, the Lord of the Worlds. And may peace and blessings of upon our master, Muhammad, his family, and Companions. And may peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.